Today we’re meant to be grateful to our political masters in the UK. They have decided to regulate the gambling sector at last. But we are still not protected from the vagaries of what academic Susan Strange once described as casino capitalism. The next recession may not be distant and the banks that triggered the last crisis have not been reformed adequately. We are still waiting for a Robin Hood Tax to address the problems caused by trading in derivatives. Taxing financial transactions in the City could actually add to the stability of the economy.
Admittedly, the addictive machines in the bookmakers were impacting adversely on ‘problem gamblers.’ Individuals could gamble up to £100 in less than a minute. The Government has opted to reduce the maximum stake to £2. However, the intervention will be far too late for many families.
This week saw the demise of American author Tom Wolfe. His Dickensian take on Wall Street, The Bonfire of the Vanities, may have been more colourful than accurate, but the text was a powerful reminder of the gap between the traders and the masses. This gulf in lived experience has only widened since the publication of the popular novel. The divide in the UK has been highlighted by divisive recent remarks made by the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. His apology cannot conceal that the Bank of England appears to be institutionally sexist. It might be less relaxed about the inflation prospects if it had a better gender balance.
We might not be able to gamble our lives away in a happy hour any more. But it remains the case that the powerful can gamble our lives away without an hour of remorse.